Following questions raised about his role in a secret, yearslong anti-Gawker Media campaign, Sean Parker has denied being the person who encouraged tech billionaire and PayPal founder Peter Thiel to secretly finance a series of lawsuits against the media company, including one brought by Hulk Hogan that resulted in a $140 million judgment.
Parker and Thiel have a long history together. Both were involved early on in Facebook. Parker is the company's former president, and Thiel was its first investor and still sits on its board. Parker and Thiel subsequently worked together at Thiel's Founder's Fund, where Parker was a managing partner. Both were also repeated subjects of Gawker Media stories.
Parker's name came up following a New York Times story published on Wednesday in which Thiel admitted to being the person who financed the Hogan suit. Thiel said he was motivated by a 2007 story that outed him as being gay, as well as a series of articles about his friends. He also told the Times that one friend in particular urged him to take action.
Mr. Thiel said that he had decided several years ago to set his plan in motion. “I didn’t really want to do anything,” he said. “I thought it would do more harm to me than good. One of my friends convinced me that if I didn’t do something, nobody would.”
In response to the revelation, Gawker founder and CEO Nick Denton wrote an open letter to Thiel on Thursday. In it he suggests that Parker may have been one of the friends Thiel refers to as being subjects of Gawker's stories. And later, among a series of "pointed and immediate" questions, Denton asks, "Is Sean Parker the friend you mentioned that persuaded you to pursue this campaign?" But Parker says it wasn't him.
"I didn't know he was doing this until very recently, so I'm not the person Nick Denton was talking about," Parker told BuzzFeed News in a text message. Previously, a Parker representative told Fusion that he had played no role in the litigation against Gawker.
So it seems at least one of Denton's questions has been answered. That just leaves nine more to go.